While speech therapy is known to be incredibly helpful to children with speech and language issues, many people are not aware of the benefits speech therapy can provide for adults as well. Adult speech therapy is often part of recovery programs for illnesses or injury, and it can also help manage other medical conditions that affect speech, language and eating. Here are some common questions about how speech therapy can help adults:
What conditions can affect speech for adults?
Medical issues such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis can affect speaking and language skills. Accidents that injure the brain, throat, jaw, or facial structure can also impair the ability to speak. While adult speech therapy is not guaranteed to cure all speech disabilities, many patients see strong improvement in language skills and increased confidence and quality of life.
How does aging affect speech and language?
Age is another factor that can lead to speech and language disorders. Weakened muscles in the throat and vocal cord area and diminished cognitive abilities can be as detrimental to speech as illness or injury. Advanced age can also affect swallowing abilities. Many speech therapy treatments are useful for both speech disabilities and swallowing disorders.
What are common signs that an adult might need speech therapy?
An inability to speak properly is often embarrassing, and many adults are reluctant to seek help. It may be time to seek out speech therapy if your loved one experiences any combination of the following symptoms:
- Speaking softly or barely able to whisper
- Rapid rate of speech with mumbling
- Hoarseness, breathiness, or nasal and stuffy-sounding speech
- Poor vocal quality
- Decline in memory
- Decline in ability to produce or understand language
- Difficulty with non-speech movements such as sticking out the tongue
How are speech disabilities diagnosed?
Speech therapists perform a variety of mental and physical tests during the diagnosis process. Treatment will begin once the underlying cause of the disability is identified. The therapist customizes a program to fit the needs of the patient and their specific disorder, such as those mentioned below.
What is Dysarthria?
Dysarthria is a condition in which weak muscles in the jaw and mouth area make speaking difficult. While age is a common cause of Dysarthria, it can also result from illnesses such as Cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, stroke, or brain injury. Treatment for Dysarthria involves oral motor therapy, in which the patient mimics mouth movements made by the speech therapist.
What is Apraxia?
Damage to the speech-related areas of the brain can cause Apraxia, which makes it difficult for patients to put sounds together to make words. Treatment for Apraxia involves the patient slowing the pace of their speech and breaking sentences down into individual sounds that are practiced over and over until the sentence is mastered.
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing. It can affect one or all stages of swallowing, including chewing, moving food into the throat, and squeezing food through the esophagus to the stomach. Undiagnosed dysphagia can result in dehydration and malnutrition. Speech therapy for Dysphagia involves physical exercises to improve muscle function and swallowing abilities, which is especially important for aging adults.
What is a voice disorder?
Voice disorders—when the vocal folds can’t vibrate effectively within the larynx to make a clear sound—are caused by a variety of conditions, including age, damage from injury or excessive yelling, vocal fold polyps or cysts, and laryngopharyngeal reflux (when stomach acid backs up into the larynx). Treatment options include strengthening exercises, vocal technique lessons, and reduction of vocally abusive behaviors. Some patients with voice disorders are candidates for vocal fold surgery, and speech therapy is an essential part of the recovery process.
Do you know someone who could benefit from speech therapy? We can help.
If you’re looking for a skilled nursing facility that provides speech therapy, you’ve come to the right place. Feel free to contact us at Bella Vista Health Center in Lemon Grove, we offer a clinical Speech Therapy program that consists of treatment, support, and care for those who have difficulties with communication, cognition, or swallowing. In addition to our skilled nursing services and five-star facility, our speech therapy after stoke programs may be just what you’re looking for to help improve your loved one’s speech and language abilities—as well as their quality of life.
Give us a call today.